Clashes break out as Israeli troops escort settlers to Joseph's Tomb
Published Sunday 20/04/2014 (updated) 21/04/2014 15:27
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces clashed with local Palestinians near Joseph's Tomb east of Nablus on Sunday morning, locals and Palestinian security sources told Ma'an.
The clashes broke after hundreds of Jewish Israelis arrived at Joseph's Tomb around midnight and performed religious rituals at the site, escorted by dozens of Israeli military vehicles.
Palestinian security sources said more than 30 Israeli military vehicles stormed Nablus before midnight and were deployed around Joseph's Tomb near Balata refugee camp east of the city.
Shortly after that, dozens of buses and private cars belonging to the Jewish Israelis arrived and hundreds began to perform religious rites, staying until early morning hours.
Witnesses said Israeli troops fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades at young Palestinian men who pelted military vehicles with stones and empty bottles.
No injuries or detentions were reported.
Jewish groups frequently visit Joseph's Tomb under the protection of Israeli forces, who deploy heavily in the area and often get into clashes with youth from the neighboring Balata refugee camp during these visits.
Despite lying in an area under Palestinian authority deep in the West Bank, Israeli forces maintain control at the site and prohibit Muslims from praying there.
Many Palestinians believe that Joseph's Tomb is the funerary monument to Sheikh Yusef Dweikat, a local religious figure. Others believe that the tomb belongs to the Biblical patriarch Joseph. The area is sacred to Jews, Samaritans, Christians and Muslims alike.
More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.